A Bit About the Bike
What the heck is that thing you’re riding? It’s our custom built Bike Friday Family Tandem Traveler!
We are still new Friday owners, but so far we are very satisfied with the bike and we continue to see other happy Bike Friday riders who are equally enthusiastic about their Fridays.
The question we get most frequently is “How does it handle with those small wheels?” To which we typically respond “about the same as a bike with ‘normal” wheels. The first time you get on the bike there is less resistance when turning the handlebars. This can result in a feeling of instability, but it starts to feel natural after about the third ride.
Fitting the bike has by far been the most involved process with our Friday. We were met with a slightly greater challenge than most tandem teams because we tag team the captain and stoker positions. So finding saddles and making the bike fit to both of us was an interesting exercise. Despite both of us being the same height, and weight we learned we are not the same shape. This was particularly apparent with saddle choice. Females generally have wider hips than men and thus require wider saddles. We eventually settled on the Specialized Jett. It was narrow enough for me and wide enough for Briana. We tried about 15 different saddles in all different widths before deciding. Our local bike shop was really awesome and accommodating in installing all of these saddles on our bike so we could take a spin around the block to assess comfort.
Our next challenge was the handle bars and handlebar position. It came stock with flat bars in the front and raised bars in the back. We did some research into bull horns, drop bars, and Bike Friday “H” bars before deciding on the Nashbar Trekking ATB/Hybrid Handlebar. They seemed like the most versatile bars for touring and suited our no-rush cycling lifestyle. Fitting them to the front was relatively painless. The grips, grip shifters, and brakes fit right on. We did have to cut off part of the grip as it was closed ended and we had to install them from the opposite direction. The back proved to be a challenge. Because they gave us the raised flat bars there was only an average sized stem connected to the captain seat post. With the trekking bars there was no way to get them raised enough to provide the stoker with a comfortable position and not poke the captain in the butt.
This is where Bike Friday’s customer service comes in. We have had several calls with them to work the kinks out of our Friday. They were really good on the phone about talking through the issue and proposing a solution. We subsequently exchanged emails with a service tech who sent us pictures of the options we would have available to us. Upon deciding they sent us the parts and we were back in business. They also gave us the parts for free given that the bike did not do what we had expected.
Once we received our new stem, we got our handlebars on and we were set. We made some minor tweaks once we started some distance rides but the last major issue to contend with was the chain rings. The way we received the bike the drive chain would pop off and get jammed between the timing chain ring and drive chain ring. This would happen at the most inopportune times, like climbing hills. It got real old real quick. When I called Bike Friday they mentioned that it was a known issue and were surprised it was shipped that way. They sent me some spacers to adjust the distance between the chain rings. That didnt solve the problem unfortunately and it took some other chain ring arrangements before we finally found one that worked. We had to put the chain protector between the two chain rings. Since we’ve done that we haven’t had the chain pop off again, but you can hear the chain rattling along the chain guard. It’s not preferred, but it’s better than having the chain come off when climbing.
Look out for coming posts about how it assembles, packs and performs with the trailer.